FRISCO, Texas --  "I have a testimony of where I want to be with my faith and God, and when you talk about great careers, you talk about the Hall of Fame," Dallas Cowboys two-time All-Pro edge rusher Micah Parsons said in training camp back on August 5

"I don't think I just want to make the Hall of Fame, I want to be known as one of the greatest Hall of Famers. There's categories to everything. There's good, there's great, and there's like perfect. … When you talk about me, I don't want to just be mentioned in the Hall of Fame. Yeah, that's a great accolade, but I want to be one of the greatest in the Hall of Fame."  

Parsons has drawn comparisons to Hall of Fame linebacker Lawrence Taylor, the New York Giants legend who many in the football world would acknowledge as the greatest defensive player of all time. Taylor was an eight-time First-Team All-Pro -- tied for the most such selections among defensive players in league history -- , a three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year -- tied for the most such wins in league history -- , the 1986 NFL MVP -- the last defensive player to win that award -- and a two-time Super Bowl champion. This is the resume every defender is striving to reach. 

The Dallas Cowboys linebacker is gaining ground in some of the categories year after year. Parsons was named to his third Pro Bowl on Wednesday night in as many seasons with a third consecutive First-Team All-Pro nod likely to follow as the engine that powers Dallas' fifth-ranked scoring defense, 19.1 points per game. He was joined by Dallas teammates quarterback Dak Prescott, wide receiver CeeDee Lamb, right guard Zack Martin, cornerback DaRon Bland, kicker Brandon Aubrey and punter Bryan Anger

However, to really pave his way toward the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, Parsons needs to start bringing home some NFL Defensive Player of the Year hardware. He certainly has a case in Year 3 in 2023. The 24-year-old leads the NFL in quarterback pressures (102), quarterback pressure rate (22.4%) and pass rush win rate (37.6%), which is when a defender beats his block ins less than 2.5 seconds, this season with one game to go.

Since Pro Football Focus began tracking quarterback pressures in 2006, there have only been four seasons in which an individual player has amassed 100 or more: former Houston Texans defensive lineman JJ Watt in a 2014 NFL Defensive Player of the Year season (119), Los Angeles Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald in a 2018 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Las Vegas Raiders defensive lineman Maxx Crosby (100) and Parsons currently. 

"I don't know," Parsons said Wednesday when asked if he has done enough to win the 2023 NFL Defensive Player of the Year award. "I think I put in a good fight against some great guys across the league. I think it's going to be a good battle. Either way I look at it, I understand how disruptive guys like Myles (Garrett), T.J. (Watt) and whoever else is in the running is. I get to watch those guys. I think Maxx Crosby had a great year that might have went overlooked because his team might not be a playoff team. There's always discrepancies to who they think should get it and base it off of teams and things like that. You always got to deal with those types of implications too."

Las Vegas backs up Parsons' assertions. FanDuel Sportsbook puts Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett as the betting favorite with -250 odds with Parsons in second at +350 followed by Watt at +450 and Crosby at +6000.  Perhaps his holdup to proclaim himself the league's Defensive Player of the Year stems from his sacks total. Parsons is up 13.0 for the season, tied for the eighth-most in the NFL this season and half a sack away from tying his career high of 13.5 he set last season. Watt is tied for the league lead with Bengals defensive end Trey Hendrickson at 17.0 while Garrett ranks sixth with 14.0 sacks with Crosby just half a sack ahead of Parsons at 13.5. 

"I know, I know," Parsons said when asked about having "only" 13 sacks so far this season. "I literally just had this conversation with the guys today. At this point, it's any means necessary. I might jump offsides twice this week. Something has to change. Something. It's coming. It's coming for sure."

To be fair to himself, he is experiencing the highest-degree of difficulty when rushing the passer. Parsons' pass-rush win rate of 36.7% leads the league with only Garrett having a rate in the 30th percentile range (30.5%), but Parsons is the only edge rusher whose double-team rate well exceeds 30%, according to ESPN's Seth Walder. He has also only drawn three holding calls rushing the passer, tied for 26th in the NFL this season, according to Sportradar. The NFL leaders in holding penalties drawn, also per Sportradar, are Crosby with eight followed by Watt, Denver Broncos defensive lineman Zach Allen, Arizona Cardinals linebacker Zaven Collins and Los Angeles Rams linebacker Michael Hoecht with seven.

Why is this statistic important? Well, if offensive linemen fear the consequence of being called for holding when blocking Parsons, that would open up more room for Parsons to get to opposing quarterbacks cleanly if the people blocking him are less inclined to try and get a fistful of jersey as he bends around the edge or explodes up the middle through the A gap against a center and/or a guard. If they don't, Parsons' path to the quarterback through all the double teams he faces only becomes more treacherous as offensive linemen get the sentiment they can hold him without consequences. His last holding call drawn came 42 quarters in Week 6 at the Los Angeles Chargers

Courtesy of ESPN's Seth Walder

If this chart alone doesn't change minds, how about his latest performance in the Cowboys' 20-19 win over the NFC North champion Detroit Lions in Week 17? Parsons racked up five quarterback pressures against a Lions offensive line that has Pro Football Focus' highest-graded offensive lineman in the entire NFL in Pro Bowl right tackle Penei Sewell (92.0 PFF offensive grade), a top-ten graded offensive guard in Detroit right guard Graham Glasgow (79.2 PFF offensive grade, eighth-best in NFL among guards) and PFF's highest-graded center in the Lions' Frank Ragnow (88.5 offensive grade).

For voters still unsure about Parsons' sacks, a breakthrough could be coming in Week 18 at the Washington Commanders. The Cowboys are treating the game like a postseason contest since a victory would clinch the NFC East division title and the number two overall seed in the NFC postseason picture. While some teams are resting starters in Week 18, Dallas is going full throttle. Parsons totaled 1.5 sacks against the Commanders in a 45-10 home victory on Thanksgiving in Week 12. 

"We've got an opportunity to win the division and go out there and make a statement win and get ready for the playoffs," Parsons said. ... "We have to go make a statement that we are the better team, the more dominant and aggressive team."

Ditto for his potential, final statement to be the 2023 NFL Defensive Player of the Year.